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Midterm Losses Among Moderate Republicans Endanger Climate Solutions Caucus

Kate Stein
Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo (District 26) delivers his concession speech after losing a tightly contested race to Democratic challenger Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

Midterm losses among moderate Florida Republicans have raised questions about the future of a climate caucus founded by two of the state's U.S. Congressmen.

The Climate Solutions Caucus created by representatives Ted Deutch (D-22) and Carlos Curbelo (R-26) is supposed to have one Republican for each Democrat.

But more than a third of the caucus' 45 Republican members will be out next year, defeated by Democrats in the midterms or headed into retirement.

Among the ousted: caucus co-founder Curbelo, a moderate who lost his bid to continue representing Monroe County and parts of Miami-Dade.

Some environmentalists say the losses could be a blessing in disguise: they’ve been unhappy with some caucus Republicans who in July voted to denounce a carbon tax.

They also question the caucus' efficacy: thus far, no climate-related bills proposed by caucus members have been passed into law.

But analysts say there’s no guarantee newly elected Democrats will focus on climate. And they say newly elected House Republicans are likely to be farther to the right -- less likely to promote climate change action -- than the moderate Republicans who held many of the caucus seats.

In an interview on election night with the environment and energy publication E&E News, Deutch declined to comment on the caucus’ future or who will take over for Curbelo as co-chair.